Tag Archives: pizza

Meat-Free Fridays: 5 Vegetarian Pizza Pies

16 Feb

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A pizza, by any other name, would smell … just as delicious. 🙂

For this week’s Meat-Free Friday, I’m starting the series with an old Lenten stand-by: Pizza! Pizza can easily be meatless — contrary to what any fan of a “Meat-Lover’s” pizza pie will tell you. While meaty toppings are often quite tasty, vegetarian pies on Fridays are such a great Lenten meal. Here are 5 Vegetarian Pizzas to try on a Friday.

Fun Fact: I’ll also throw in a BONUS recipe for whole grain dough that you can make at home. If you’re pursuing healthy eats in general, why not go whole hog (er, whole … vegetarian hog?) and try your own dough? Happy eating!

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Friday Night Dinner Ideas: Easy Shrimp & Tomato Pesto Pizza

4 Jan

ImageIt’s Friday night. You’re on your way home from work. You (and your wallet) don’t want to order take-out again, aren’t interested in nuking any leftovers lurking in your fridge, and can’t stomach the thought of scraping together a meal from the cereal, Planter’s peanuts and instant oatmeal in your pantry cabinet. What’s a gal or guy to do?

Whit up a quick pizza, of course!

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Christmas Vacation (the Griswold-free Edition): Pizzas, Pasta, and a Whole Lotta Carbs

29 Dec

Hello hello, my lovely readers and friends! I’ve returned from a lengthy and lovely Christmas Break (the joys of working in education: I still have a set-in-stone-employer-can’t-touch-it end-of-December vacation. HOO-rah!) with updates of the foodie variety. As expected, my sojourn to my family homestead (figuratively, not literally — I grew up squarely in suburbia, not the big ol’ fields and pine-filled woods of THT’s childhood) was filled with food. Literally filled. The stuffed turkey and I were vying for the heftiest belly on Christmas night, and I’m very okay with that.

It was pretty wonderful to be home, actually. I mean, having come from depressingly snow-free DC, how could I beat this winter wonderland?

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com.

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com.
“White Christmas,” anyone?

And with a mama this cute, my time at home was downright fabbity fab-fab. 🙂

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com. Family resemblance, right down to the 80+ layers of warm clothing!

There were so many culinary highlights, that it’s hard to pin down my favorite dishes. My little sister made an amazing Asparagus SautĂ©, cutting the asparagus into 2-inch chunks and sauteing them with olive oil, a few minced garlic cloves, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. My older sister’s Pignoli Cookies were so epically Italian and so darned tasty that any attempt to reproduce their southern-Sicilian magic would moot. (Or a “moo” point, if you’re Joey.) NOTE: If you’re interested in tackling their tastiness, here’s a delicious version of her recipe from Italian Food Forever.

And Grandma GKG’s Christmas Eve Italian feast, complete with Pasta with Broccoli Rabe, was, as usual, downright divine. (Spaghetti + sauteed broccoli rabe + parmesan + chicken broth + a topping of crushed croutons. Simple, huh?)

And as an alternative to turkey, my padre tried this recipe for Michael Symon’s Porchetta from Food Network Magazine. With its spicy pancetta and rosemary filling (an extra kick comes from oodles of red pepper flakes), it was a hit for the senses and the sinuses. Whoo!

Image courtesy of foodnetwork.com. Molto bene!

Image courtesy of foodnetwork.com. Molto bene!

My contributions were mostly of the sous-chef variety — scoring the pork roast, baking some bread, arranging tables, washing dishes, etc. However, I did make one of my absolute favorite pizza recipes, which I’ll now share with you, lovely readers.

Here’s a preview:

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com. Love the blur effect -- looks like steam on the oven window!

Image courtesy of Felicia L. / Facebook.com. Love the blur effect — looks like steam on the oven window!

One night a few days before Christmas, the task of dinner prep fell to me. (I know, how terrible … twist my arm, why don’t you, Mom? Tee hee.) I decided to make one of my specialties, White Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms & Ham. I also whipped up a Pesto Pizza and Veggie Pizza, which are low-key additions to the pizza repertoire of any budding chef. (Pesto Pizza = pesto sauce, cheese, and sliced tomatoes; Veggie pizza = wheat crust, tomato sauce, and as many veggies as your fridge can hold.) The white pizza, however, is an elegant and stylish dinner treat.

White Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, & Ham

You’ll need:

  • 1 white or wheat pizza crust, rolled out and prepared for baking
  • 1 cup prepared bechamel sauce
  • 1-2 cups shredded fontina cheese
  • 4-6 slices of deli ham, sliced into thin shreds
  • 1/4 white onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup white button mushroom slices
  • Additional parmesan cheese, salt & pepper for seasoning

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare pizza crust on top of either a baking sheet or a baking stone.
  • To caramelize onions, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, slowly, for 20-30 minutes, adding 1/4 cup of water every few minutes, or until water is absorbed each time. This slow method will render sweetness and delicious caramelized sugar from the onions.
  • To prepare the mushrooms, cook in batches over medium-low heat with a smidgen of olive oil. Do NOT add mushrooms all at once; keep space between each mushroom and flip once, allowing them to brown on each side.
  • To prepare the ham, simply saute the slices in either the onion pan or the mushroom pan once either vegetable is finished cooking. Allow the ham to crisp up slightly, for no longer than 5-10 minutes.
  • Spread the prepared bechamel sauce over the crust. Check here for a simple recipe. Top with shredded cheese, caramelized onions, and prepared ham slices and mushrooms. Additional parmesan is good here as a garnish, as is a grind or two of fresh black pepper.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust and cheese are lightly browned. Slice into small squares and enjoy as an appetizer or a main meal.

This pizza is SO darn good, it’s ridiculous. If you’d like something less labor-intensive, you can also use raw onions, raw mushrooms, and deli ham straight out of the package. The extra steps add a whole nother dimension, however, and are definitely worth the effort!

What are your favorite holiday recipes? What are your classic Christmas dishes, wintertime favorites, and seasonal delicacies? Happy eating!

Easy Dinners: Tortilla Pizza

11 Dec

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Love pizza? (Who am I kidding? If you didn’t love pizza, I suspect you wouldn’t be on this pizza-loving woman’s blog.)

Don’t have the time to roll out fresh dough or whip up your own? (I.e. like every 20-something on a weeknight.)

Hunting through your fridge for some semblance of nutritious food, and coming up a bit short? (Again, like a lot of us. Unless you work at Whole foods. I bet their employee discount is ridiculous.)

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Pinterest Challenge: Gluten-Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

27 Oct

It’s officially time for Sherry Petersik and Katie Bower’s Pinterest Challenge! While I’ve been soldiering on with recipes this year in the spirit of their challenges (such as this one, this one, and this one), I can now officially submit mine to the Petersik’s blog paradise. Hurrah! For the official Pinterest Challenge submission, I decided to tackle something that I’d seen repeatedly in the hallowed … pages (?) of the Pin: Flour-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

While I’m not vegan, nor am I gluten-free, I like exploring veggie-based meals for both environmental (fewer methane emissions? Woot.) and health (fewer calories + more nutrients? Dietary goodness FTW.) reasons. With more than a few friends and relatives with Celiac’s disease and other gluten struggles, I’ve explored gluten-free baking and cooking with mucho curiosity. And with pictures like this circulating on Pinterest, my interest was officially piqued:

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Viva Italia! Homemade Pesto & Tomato-Topped Pizza

17 Sep

“And they say pesto, pesto, pesto” — adapted from Michael Buble’s “Cuando, Cuando, Cuando.”

In the spirit of this post from the lovely Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, whose show you should watch and blog you should read. ‘Nuff said), I’ve been on a basil and pesto kick lately. And how could I not be? My basil, shockingly for this whatever-the-opposite-of-a-green-thumb-is lady, is abundant and so, so fragrant. Mmmmm!

Pesto, for the non-Italians, actually comes from Northern Italy’s region of Liguria — specifically, the city of Genoa. Check out this sweet map. What up, MS Paint arrow:

It’s practically Switzerland! (Well, not quite. But hey, you get the idea.)

Its combination of basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and seasoning makes pesto an easy and deeee-LICIOUS sauce with Mediterranean flair and earthy flavor. Killer combination of tastes = one of my favorite toppers for pasta, pizza or, um, pretty much anything. Here are some easy-peasy pesto directions if you’re making it at home (note: this is enough for 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sauce:

The players — the walnuts added such a cool flavor to the mix.

  • Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts (though I used walnuts recently, and they were molto bene), and some salt & pepper (to taste) to a food processor or blender. Process / Blend at full blast. (WOOOOO! Listen to the whirring noises!)

  • Slowly add olive oil to the mixture as it blends, or add a splash or two of oil and pulse the sauce in your food processor until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like.

  • Eat. Ideally in something else, but I won’t judge you if you eat it with a spoon. Not one bit. 🙂

So how can you use this nectar of the Roman (Er … Ligurian?) Gods? Here are a few ideas that I love:

  • Mix your pesto with mayonnaise, then spread on a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Dress a pasta salad of whole wheat penne, peas, grape tomatoes and parmesan with pesto. Mix thoroughly for super-tastiness.
  • Stir a little pesto into your favorite tomato-based pasta sauces.
  • Try mixing pesto into unconventional combinations, like with scrambled eggs or as a garnish / topping on a grilled steak.
  • PIZZA! Pizza, pizza, pizza.

I love making pesto pizza — when I did a volunteer teaching program a few years ago, my housemates and I would often whip up this easy pesto pizza for Community dinner in 30 minutes flat. If you have homemade pesto or just bought a jar of the pre-made stuff (still delicious, by the way — no shame in a little convenience), here’s a vegetarian-friendly dinnertime treat for you.

“Community Living” Pesto Pizza — serves 4. Easily doubled or tripled!

Awwww yeaaaah.

You’ll need:

  • 1 batch pizza dough, or 1 store-bought pizza dough (wheat dough is especially good here)
  • 1 jar pesto sauce, or 1 batch homemade pesto
  • 1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese, or 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Basil and parmesan for garnishing

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you like to use a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat in the oven as well.
  • Roll out your dough to the desired size, and place on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel. (A cutting board works just as well!)

Aaand, glamor shot! Thanks, flash button …

  • Spread the dough with pesto sauce, in an amount that you prefer. Top with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, parmesan and torn basil leaves / up to 1 tsp dried basil.

  • “Shimmy” the dough onto the stone by shaking it off of your peel / cutting board. Quickly close the oven and allow the pizza to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has bubbled and browned to your liking.

  • Eat. A lot. I also wouldn’t judge you if you ate the entire pizza yourself. Have I done that before? Um …. [she said, glancing awkwardly around the room.]

Not the greatest picture, but still. Now I’m hungry again. As usual. 🙂

  • Note: This pizza can easily be vegan with an alternative crust (cauliflower is popular right now), a cheese-free pesto (use a little Bragg’s nutritional yeast to add salt & flavor), and dairy-free cheese. To add a meat-lover’s twist, try adding grilled chicken or even sauteed shrimp to a smidgen of pesto sauce, then spread on TOP of the tomatoes before baking.

Are you guys and gals “pesto people?” How do you like to use pesto sauce? Do you make your own, or prefer jarred sauces? What else might you add to a pesto pizza?

Easy-Peasy Homemade Pizza

18 Jul

I’ve been on something of a chemical-free kick lately, food-wise. (I still put Lord-knows-what’s-in-it volumizing spray in my hair before I blow dry, but I’m using organic conditioner and wash my clothes with biodegradable detergent! Baby steps.) While I’m not making any groundbreaking changes in my diet, beyond the basic healthy choices I’ve adopted over the years, the whole “farm-to-table,” hormone-free dialogue just makes me think. A lot.

Image sourced from organicgardening.com. What does “sustainable” really mean in day to day life?

It also leaves me with questions. How many chemicals, preservatives, dyes and additives are in foods I eat every day? What’s their impact on my health? And how difficult will it be for me to channel my inner Alice Waters / Barbara Kingsolver / Michael Pollan on a teacher’s budget?

Image sourced from floridata.com. Should this be my guidepost?

The easiest way to start, as someone who’s a long way from either being a master chef or growing her own animal, vegetable or miracle, is to try making what you can from scratch. A friend once told me that she stuck to the “outer rim” of the grocery store — produce, lean protein, etc. — and I find that the more “whole foods” I buy, and the more things I make on my own, the better I feel. And, frankly, the better my conscience feels, both in terms of my own health and in terms of my impact (or lack thereof) on the earth. I could buy the premade pizza dough and tomato sauce, manufactured hundreds of miles away, stuffed into non-biodegradable containers and chock-full of preservatives and chemicals, or I could make my own.

Granted, I’m not in an episode of “Portlandia” here — no one made homemade parmesan cheese in an organic bucket with locally sourced rennet, and I’m not exactly raising my own chickens on an urban homestead. Nor am I looking down on those who don’t make their own pizza crust, sauce or the like. Life’s too short to judge how “green” someone else’s diet is. But the baby steps are the building blocks of real lifestyle change. Why not try and make some little adjustments, if the overall benefit is to your health and the joy of your taste buds?

Image sourced from eater.com. Just substitute “pickle that” for “make that from scratch with loads of pretension!” No thanks.

And oh, is it worth it! There’s something so lovely about taking that kind of ownership over your food. Cutting through a crust you’ve kneaded. Spooning on a sauce you’ve cooked yourself. Slicing market-fresh vegetables and sprinkling them with cheese. Serving that hot, steaming pie to people you love. As Martha would say, it’s a good thing. (Then again, Martha also went to prison for insider trading. Again, nobody’s perfect.)

Image sourced from usmagazine.com. Well, I guess if Martha’s making pizza with Gwyneth Paltrow, then all’s right with the world again.

Easy Peasy Homemade Pizza — serves 4 – 8

You’ll need:

For the dough — makes enough for 2 pizzas. [courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens]

  • 2 cups lukewarm water (105° to 115°, to get technical; just make sure it’s not too hot, or you’ll kill your yeast.)
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (or 4 and 1/2 tsps)
  • 6 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose (OR 5 cups all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 2 tsps sea salt

For the sauce — makes enough for 2 pizzas.

One recipe Homemade Pasta Sauce, minus the tomato paste and carrots

You’ll also need …

  • 1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese (1-2 cups)
  • Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
  • Romano cheese, for sprinkling
  • Various dried Italian herbs
  • Toppings of your choice — I love fresh bell peppers, tomatoes, and cooked chicken. (Especially shredded Rotisserie Chicken!)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Mix your water and yeast in a large bowl; allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, or until slightly bubbly.
  2. Add flour and salt, mixing to combine. The pre-kneaded dough may seem pretty dry.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface (I used my tabletop) for 6-8 minutes, or until elastic in texture. (I.e. when you poke it, it bounces back a bit.) Form into a ball.
  4. Grease a large bowl; place the dough in the bowl, turning over once or twice until it’s coated in oil or spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, or 1-2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, cook up your sauce; allow it to simmer on low, covered, as the dough’s rising.
  6. When the dough is fully risen, cut off half to use for another pizza. [Freeze the dough, tightly wrapped in saran wrapped and bagged in a Ziplock, for up to 3 months. (According to BHG. Have yet to test this theory.)]  Roll out the dough on a floured surface and place on a cornmeal-covered pizza stone or baking sheet. Brush with a small amount of olive oil and bake in a 450° oven for 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, remove the crust from the oven. Ladle on your sauce, spreading over the hot crust. Add cheeses, herbs and toppings in amounts to your liking. Return to 450° oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown.

What are your favorite pizza recipes? How have you gone “farm to table” in your own apartment kitchens?